The themes of my training for the past few weeks have been hill repeats and tempo/steady state miles. Overall, I’ve been feeling good and have been trying to take things one workout at a time. If I’m given a goal range for my workouts I’ve been trying to keep things on the low end. I figure I have plenty of recovery miles to relax, so as long as I’m feeling good I try to stay focused and push my pace a little, but I’ve also applied that same focus to making those easy miles easy. I’ve also found myself naturally pushing at the end of tempo blocks, making my last mile my fastest. I haven’t forgotten how bad those final 3 miles of November’s half marathon felt, so I’m trying to prepare myself for that final uncomfortable surge. Sometimes it’s more of a game; I start to imagine coming down that final stretch and being close enough to out kick someone. So far I’ve out run every stop sign.
This winter has been more severe than the past couple of years. We’ve had very cold temps and regular wintry precipitation for the past month and a half, and while I can objectively look at the calendar and try to rationalize that it really hasn’t been that long, it feels like a small eternity. It didn’t start out feeling that way; a month ago I prided myself on bundling up and running in the single digits like it was no big deal, and a month ago it wasn’t. But, now? It’s starting to slowly chip away at my resolve. The non-running, book-loving part of me is happy to have had a real winter, and I’ve enjoyed plenty of lazy afternoons on the couch with my books gazing out at the winter wonderland. Also, if I’m being totally honest, I’m relieved to have a “real” winter in the midst of a growing alarm for the climate. The runner in me, however, is ready for some sunshine and t-shirts. I keep telling myself I’ll be stronger for all this time I’ve spent training in the cold, and I’ve sworn up and down that I will under no circumstances complain about hot weather. I’m not sure that the two extremes compare for me, though. I like warmth, I like summer, and while there are certainly dangers to be aware of in the heat, I feel comfortable in it. I’ll circle back in July to confirm this heat love.
I was just sitting here glancing at my training calendar for the upcoming week, and spied a speed workout for tomorrow that got me legitimately excited, like go home and layout my gear excited, and make a new, special playlist excited. Weather permitting, I should be in for a fun workout, but the excitement itself is more noteworthy than whatever happens when my feet hit the (cold) pavement. So much of training is mental, a constant bargain with yourself to get up and keep plugging, the required faith to believe what you’re doing now will payoff in a few months. But as I’ve become more and more committed to working towards my goals, the most important mental shift I’ve made is to take myself seriously as an athlete.
As far as cold mornings go, this morning was nothing to write home about, but still the onslaught of arctic temps and winter weather during the past month have started to make the dark mornings feel especially dark and especially cold, even if they are no longer elemental extremes. The cumulative effect of cold cheeks and numb fingers has intensified my longing for spring, though anything above 30 degrees feels surprisingly encouraging. 40 makes me feel borderline giddy, or really anything that allows my gloves and hat to say at home. Someone mentioned earlier this week that we are officially halfway through winter, so here’s hoping that we’re embarking on downhill sprint to warmth and light.
This morning when I checked the temp to suit up for my run, I was greeted with the harsh reality of a 35 degree low. Yes, it’s late October, but this cold snap came on very suddenly. Sunday afternoon I was sitting on my porch in a very comfortable 70-something degrees. But even if it had been a more gradual descent into colder weather, and this morning hadn’t felt quite so jarring, I’d still prefer the warmer temps.
Photo is at the start of last year’s race (Indy Monumental).
This morning was one of those mornings with a little extra haze around getting up and moving, the kind where your alarm clock becomes infused in your dream and you’re in a half state of awake and not. After I gave in to the fact that the jarring, repetitive noise wasn’t coming from some mythical cloud, I got up and got ready for business. This morning was my last bout of speed work for this training cycle.
Greetings from the other side of the weekend, also known as Monday! It’s a rainy, dreary day so far, and I think my mood has followed suit, even if I didn’t mind the gentle, not-too-cold rain while I ran this morning. Some Mondays just feel especially Monday-ish, or perhaps after a long and tiring week last week I needed some extra weekend-ness, though as far as weekends go it was pretty perfect, weather included. It was warm enough to sit outside, but there was a little hint of fall in the air and the leaves have started to turn and blanket the ground. I will miss the warmth, but I also appreciate the seasonality. The forecast assures me that the warmth will be very short-lived.
Do you ever get so stuck in your normal routine that you sort of forget that it’s okay to move things around? You cling to one allotted time for, say, running, and then you hit an errant day in which it’s not really ideal (at all) and you scramble to try to rearrange everything else that is much less pliable than you and your running shoes. If you’re lucky, before you set your alarm for some ungodly hour you’ll realize that it might be okay to run after work instead, just this once, which coincidentally would mean a less treacherous run in actual daylight with your favorite tunes, versus a somewhat terror filled slog in the dark requiring an alert eye and ear for various dangers. In this not-so-hypothetical-fable, I ventured into the unknown this week—the land of the evening run.
I spied this morning’s speed workout on my calendar last week, and was nervous about it. I attempted this workout 2 weeks ago, and while it wasn’t awful, it wasn’t great either. This morning’s weather wasn’t exactly encouraging; it’s unseasonably cold today (in the 30s when I headed out) and windy. Wind is never a friendly addition to harder efforts, or at least not when you’re running into it. The prescribed workout was a 3 mile warm up, 5 x 1K (5K pace) with 200m jogs in between, and a 2 mile cool down. The goal was also to run the 1K’s progressively faster. Last time, I failed to do this, but I think mostly because I hadn’t quite visualized the paces. I don’t normally run kilometers, and I guess it was a bit of a cerebral malfunction. When I viewed the repeats by the mile pace required for each it made more sense, so I knew what it would loosely feel like. I also wrote the times on my hand because I think seeing them helped with the visualization, and also helped me hone in on each split’s specific effort. Small things.
Well, let’s just call my daily writing challenge a fail and move on, shall we? It’s not so much that I am unable to sit and write every day, I actually enjoy writing quite a bit. I think I’ve created other, unnecessary, blocks for myself. I sit down to write and I realize I’ve failed to take any pictures, and sometimes taking said pictures, of myself anyway, requires stepping outside of my comfort zone. Does it matter that I don’t have image heavy posts? Probably not. Mostly I’m compelled to document and share my journey, and for me that means writing about it. Will I write more if I remove this self-created pressure? Maybe, and perhaps if I revamp my goal with this caveat (no pressure to snap daily running selfies) I’ll find a happy medium for myself. Okay, enough of the meta talk about blogging. I’ve probably written more about writing than anything else. Let’s talk running.